The ability to monetise selfies has become the focus of some marketing campaigns in recent months, but is there a time when it is inappropriate to publish selfies? I certainly believe so.
And so it seems does the White House.
Earlier this week Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz took a selfie with President Obama and it appears this was part of a campaign to promote the Galaxy Note 3 phone.
It was an honor to help [Ortiz] capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement.
The World Series champion Boston Red Sox team visited the White House, and when it came time to take a photograph, Ortiz too his Samsung phone from his pocket to take a selfie with Obama holding a Red Sox jersey. He then went on to share the selfie on Twitter and it currently has over 41,500 re-Tweets.
Samsung then re-Tweeted the image which currently has almost 500 re-Tweets.
It appears that Ortiz recently became a social media insider for Samsung Sports Business Journal with his role including tweeting and sending photos on behalf of Samsung, so this means the Tweet of the selfie was a marketing tactic and there was a commercial arrangement behind it.
Similar to the selfie Ellen was able to capture during the Oscars, this was an opportunity for David to share the incredible moment with his fans. When we heard about the visit to the White House, we worked with David and the team on how to share images with fans.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president’s image should not be used for commercial gain and stated that White House lawyers were being consulted over the issue.
The BBC reports that Carney stated:
Without getting into counsel’s discussions, I can tell you that as a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the President’s likeness for commercial purposes, and we certainly object in this case.
So essentially Ortiz is as self-serving and callous as most overpaid athletes. Count me as one less fan
Cheap commercial stunt
Is everything these days an advertisement? Are there no spontaneous and genuine moments in public life today?
It is timely reminder to make sure that if you are taking and publishing selfies for promotional and marketing purposes that you agree with those involved it does not breach any codes of practice or guidelines, especially when it could be considered an endorsement and advertising and that it will not be considered over promotional.
The BBC News covered the story early this morning and they interviewed a marketing media author from the US about the case.
At the 2 minute point on the interview the guest then picked up their Apple iPhone to take a selfie of themselves being interviewed on BBC News, the BBC presenter then had no option but to let them go ahead.
This image was clearly being taken as part of the authors own marketing and social proof – they subsequently posted about it to Twitter and Facebook.
I was personally disappointed and surprised that the BBC had allowed this to happen. It’s not something I expect or want to see in the middle of an interview on BBC News.
So I then commented about it on Twitter – first to the BBC News Twitter account and then I found the BBC presenter was on Twitter so I shared my point of view with them.
The BBC News presenter did reply to me and shared his point of view. The author was also watching the conversation and promptly got involved. The three of us then interacted for a half hour or so on the topic.
The use of selfies has become popular but when a brand, organisation or person uses them inappropriately it can impact the perception and reputation. I have been asking people in my social media and visual marketing programmes in the last six months about their use of selfies for marketing and here in Ireland there is a reluctance to take and share selfie photographs as people consider them ‘self promotional’ which is not something people are keen to do.
However looking at accounts from other countries it is different – for example I see someone trying to position themselves as an Instagram expert for small businesses in the US persistently taking selfies and their belief is that selfies are essential for Instagram marketing success.
There is a time an a place for selfies in marketing communications. But we need to make sure that we are not breaching marketing guidelines and we do not use them in a way that will alienate your customer or prospect.
That includes if you are engaging with celebrities and influencers to ensure that they disclose that they have received products, services or money from your organisation and disclose this in their promotions. For example Ortiz could ave been given a hashtag to use to disclose his commercial relationship with Samsung.
And the traditional media channels that are reporting in real time such as the BBC News could ensure that their guests know what is and is not appropriate protocol when in an interview, which of course will depend on their editorial guidelines.
Of course the selfie taken by Ellen DeGeneres using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in front of 43 million viewers of the Oscars in March to take a selfie of the star-studded front row at the event was considered a success for a product placement with more than 3 million re-Tweets within two days.
The photograph has earned it’s place in social media history next to Oreo’s blackout tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl. Samsung spent an estimated US$20 million on the broadcast, which likely included its sponsorship deal with ABC as the official behind-the-scenes sponsor. It also established a Twitter deal for promoted celebrity selfies from the greenroom backstage.
Samsung received 40,000 brand mentions during the Oscars for the seflie, which caused attention to its commercials during the broadcast to spike upward.
Adage reports that Degeneres added 1.2 million Twitter followers in the first two days, Samsung added on 10,000 followers.
What are your thoughts about using selfies in your visual content marketing? What do you do to ensure that your content remains compliant and that you ensure that you disclose associations and where there is a commercial arrangement?